Welles' "Othello" (5/20)

Timeless, sensual, spirited, courageous — all appropriately outsized words to describe this sumptuous adaptation of the Bard’s tale of the Moor, crafted by and starring one of cinema’s great outsized personalities. The electric tension inherent in Shakespeare’s triangle of Othello, Desdemona and Iago is further bolstered by some of the sharpest, starkest imagery of Orson Welles’ career; this is visual work on the same level of Citizen Kane and Touch Of Evil, along with being a prime example of how black-and-white can be even more vibrant than color. An inherent facet of Welles’ directorial life on film is that the behind-the-scenes chaos that frequently shadowed him (the bad financing deals, the false starts, the re-casting and the re-cuts) often influenced the finished products’ spirit, for better or worse. Here, however, there are no visible seams. Even though Othello’s infamous, on-again-off-again production took three years, frequently shedded cast members and spanned many different cities passing for one central locale, it’s all of one organic, captivating piece — one which nabbed the ‘52 Palme D’Or at Cannes. Brand-new restoration!
Dir. Orson Welles, 1952, DCP, 93 min.

Watch the trailer for Welles’ “Othello”!